I recently came across a quote by Michael J. Fox that described his approach to living with Parkinson’s disease. He explained, “If I let it affect everything, it’s gonna own everything. I don’t deny or pretend it’s not there, but if I don’t allow it to be bigger than it is, then I can do everything else.”
This is an inspiring description of the power of acceptance of life as it is and reveals the importance of keeping things in their place in our lives.
Accepting the Stressors in Our Lives
We all have stressors that rattle us, knock us off our moments of peace, cloud our practice, or burden our lives. These are things we either want to change, pretend not to exist, or even wish away every so often.
The demanding job, the bills to pay, the house chores, the toxic people in our lives—they all from time to time “own” us, consume us, or drive us spiritually away from our true selves. Acceptance means that you do not let these things own you or your life. They exist. They will continue to exist.
It is our response to these stressors, not the stressors themselves that is within our control. Accepting life, including its burdens and hardships, helps us thrive despite these stressors. Instead of making these stressors bigger than they are, we simply need to recognize and accept them as part of the journey.
Letting Go of the Positive
Many times we focus on the negative things that cloud our practice, but positive moments or events can cloud our practice too. There is a saying that the witches came for MacBeth after his biggest triumph, because that was when he was at his most vulnerable.
That crush we cannot stop thinking about, our success or our big bonus at work, this great vacation, or that amazing night out with friends—these moments also exist, and (we hope) will continue to exist and be a part of our lives.
But sometimes we chase these moments or try to recreate them under different circumstances and lose the moment we are in. Getting too attached to these moments can also lead to vanity or an overinflated ego, distracting us from a good life or meaningful connections with people.
This is why humility and non-attachment are essential components to a sound yoga practice and a good life. We cannot let the great moments “own” us either by making them bigger than they are or living in the past at the expense of the present.
At Peace as We Are
There is a powerful yoga mantra, “I am at peace as I am,” that leads to acceptance. It is easy to miss or forget that this mantra has two components to it. Often during yoga practice, we are already at peace, so we feel the peace and miss experiencing the second part of the mantra, “as I am.”
The feeling of acceptance brings to a practice (and life) a feeling of calm, release, and even confidence. Seeing our own “perfections” as well as our “imperfections,” and finding that they are equally part of the people we are allows us to truly experience our own inner beauty and find balance in our lives.
by Michael Navratil – Michael is a lawyer who found yoga as a way to discover himself on a deeper level. Yoga is something he believes strongly in and teaches his kids about, and he shares his thoughts in case they help others on their yogic journey.
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